AfriGeneas Canada Research Forum
Re: Wish to Visit Canada
In Response To: Wish to Visit Canada ()
My favorite event, hands down, is the annual Emancipation festivals, held throughout Canada the last weekend of July. The best, in my opinion, is the one held in Owen Sound, on the shores of the lovely Georgian Bay, and is organized by black and white descendants of early black settlers in Grey County, many of whom are my cousins. This festival commemorates when Canada finally abolished slavery in 1834, and the Owen Sound event is the longest running Emancipation Festival in the world (2014 will be their 152nd year!).
Toronto's Caribana Festival is always held that same weekend, but is more centered on the Caribbean inhabitants of the Toronto area rather than the celebration of Emancipation.
In my own experiences, I've spent time hitting several of the black sites/museums in Ontario and stayed at nearby hotels (I could always find a Best Western Hotel nearby), setting up private tours ahead of time, and meeting some wonderful people, many of whom knew of my family, which really blew my mind.
I don't know of any tour guides available, but contact the Ontario Black History Society and they may be able to arrange something for you, though they're based in Toronto. Most blacks in the Toronto area are NOT descendants of slaves, rather are African or Caribbean, recent transplants in the 20th century. Also, be prepared to accept that many black Canadians who descended from slaves have married white, and as their kids marry white, many of them don't relate to their black ancestry at all. This was one of he most difficult things for me to understand how my black cousins, with both parents black, consider themselves "mixed." Huh? It's a different paradigm than the U.S., and it takes getting used to.
The Owen Sound Emancipation Festival committee may also be able to provide guidance on accommodations and such. I normally stay in nearby Sauble Beach, because my cousins have a summer cottage there, then we drive down the 15 miles to Owen Sound to the Festival, but there are hotels in Owen Sound. Nearby Collingwood was also a center for early black settlement in the 1800s, but I can probably count the black descendants still living there, on one hand.
Montreal, Halifax, Nova Scotia, and even Vancouver Island, British Columbia, played important parts in early black Canadian history, and perhaps, in time, you can expand your travels to these other provinces.
I don't know if this helps, but as you travel plans start to firm up, please contact me, and I may be able to join you and offer some of the assistance you desire. I love Canada, and consider it my true ancestral home in many ways... But it's so darned cold! Go ahead and get your passports, no visas required, and please stay in touch.
All the best in your travels.
Lisa B. Lee, owner